Cannabis landraces. The essential characteristic of Cannabis landraces is that they’re domesticates. As Dr. Ernest Small writes in Cannabis: A Complete Guide, “The term landrace (land race) refers to populations of domesticated plants that were selected over many generations by farmers in a region.” Desired traits include high-quality fibre, large nutritious seeds, or inflorescences that are rich in THC.

The widespread claim on the Internet that landraces are wild plants created solely by nature is misleading. No doubt these traditional domesticates are typically region-specific and have innevitably adapted to their local environment through natural selection. But their defining qualities are the result of humans consciously and unconsciously selecting for desired products, in some regions over many millennia.

Traditional Asian ‘drug-type’ strains can thus be grouped into two main types: domesticates for traditional resin (charas or hashish), which are found in the Himalaya, Hindu Kush, Central Asia, and Middle East; and domesticates for bud (ganja), which originate in subtropical and tropical India and Southeast Asia. Crucially, these ancient plants are an invaluable repository of biodiversity, the importance of which can’t be overstated. See the essential new study from McPartland & Small, ‘A classification of endangered high-THC cannabis (Cannabis sativa subsp. indica) domesticates and their wild relatives’.

For thoughts on the risks of popularizing the term landrace, which three years into the Cannabis ‘landrace craze’ continues to be widely misunderstood by aficionados, never mind consumers, please see the new piece Landrace: A Dirty Word.

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